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Pharm Report

Capping Head With Spray-On Sunscreen

July 26, 1999|SHARI ROAN

New for Sun Protection: Manufacturers of sun-protection products are getting more creative every summer. Two new products address the lingering problem of getting sunscreen to all skin surfaces in the easiest and quickest manner.

One product, called Made 2 Shade, is a sunscreen for your head. It's designed for people who are bald or who have thinning or short hair. Made 2 Shade is a non-oily and unscented spray that goes on the hair or head and dries quickly. The manufacturer claims the hair still looks natural. It also functions as a skin protector when applied anywhere on the body. The product, made by MacPac Inc. of San Dimas, is only available by phone ([877] 742-3315) or through the company's Web site: (http://www.made2shade.com). It sells for $9.95 plus shipping and handling.

Another new product is SunSwipe, a 12-inch square, cotton towelette premoistened with sunscreen. According to the manufacturer, the towelette is reusable throughout the day. SunSwipe comes in four formulas: SPF 15, SPF 25, SPF 30 and SPF 45. There is also a non-SPF self-tanning towelette containing a tanning accelerator. The products sell for 99 cents to $1.49 and can be found at select Wal-Mart and CVS stores.

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Antidepressants Helpful for PMS: Last year, researchers reported that Prozac improved the mood of women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. A new study has found that the medication not only alleviates irritability and poor mood but can even help reduce bloating and breast tenderness.

Dr. Meir Steiner of St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, studied 320 women with the disorder and found that women taking Prozac felt significantly better than women who took a placebo (dummy) pill during the study. Steiner, who presented his study at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Assn. in May, says that women with the disorder might benefit by taking the medication during the last two weeks of their menstrual cycle, or one sustained-release pill during the last week of the cycle.

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New Osteoporosis Drug: A new medication for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis is likely to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this year. Research presented last month at the Endocrine Society meeting in San Diego found that the medication, Actonel, was highly effective in preventing fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

Actonel, made by Procter & Gamble and Hoechst Marion Roussel, a pharmaceutical firm, reduced spinal fractures by 49% and nonvertebral fractures by 39%. The companies have asked the federal government for permission to market the drug for osteoporosis. It is already approved for the treatment of Paget's disease, a bone disease that increases the risk of fractures.

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Chicken Pox Vaccine Recommendation: A vaccine for chicken pox, called the Varicella vaccine, has been available since 1995. But only about 35% of California children are vaccinated and no state has a vaccination rate of higher than 40%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of these low rates for voluntary immunization, an advisory committee to the CDC has recommended that all states require vaccination against chicken pox prior to a child's entering day-care centers or school. Only 10 states have instituted this requirement. California is one of five states considering the recommendation. Children should be vaccinated between the ages of 12 and 18 months. However, the vaccine can be given at any age.

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Antidepressants Fuel Growing Drug Benefit Costs: The continuing popularity of antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil was the major reason why pharmacy benefit costs increased so dramatically last year, according to Express Scripts Inc., an independent pharmacy benefit manager. The increase of 16.8% in drug spending means that consumers this year are paying a larger share of drug expenses in the form of higher co-payments.

Antidepressants are the second most frequently prescribed prescription drugs, after drugs used to control blood pressure. Antidepressant use increased 11.9% between 1997 and 1998, the study found.

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